I can hardly believe how smoothly things are going this time around. I am writing this on a “difficult” day. It’s past noon and Seamus has slept just 30 minutes since he woke up at 7:30 this morning. He’s cried – comparatively – a lot. Like 5 minutes? I won’t even get into how long he slept last night (really long). I am not trying to torture anyone. I haven’t done anything differently (except, possibly, relax), but he’s just an easier baby.
Owen, as I recall, was ravenous ALL THE TIME. I felt like a mammal in the most primal sense. I was the food supply. I oozed milk. I WAS milk. Seamus seems to see me as both nourishment and nurture. He’ll cuddle without eating. And I like cuddling him. As a result, I am not in as big a hurry to put him down.
Now, as I write I am listening to the sounds of some fretting on the baby monitor. I may have to leave this post any minute now, but I am more willing to endure fretting, so long as it doesn’t devolve into crying.
Please know, if you have had or are having a difficult time, that I am not gloating. I was prepared for sleeplessness, spit up, pee fountains, etc., and there have been some of these! I like to think that would be immensely grateful regardless for this second try at mothering a newborn. Right now though, I am just grateful for this particular delicious newborn who is adapting so beautifully to the outside world.
Here are the things that have helped me this time around:
1. Incredibly quick recovery after incredibly quick birth. I am just lucky. There was no way to predict or prepare for that.
2. Wonderful team of nurses at the CLSC who noticed that Seamus wasn’t gaining weight and intervened early but not precipitously.
3. Wonderful lactation doctor who understood my limits with pumping and intervention and realized that if we couldn’t solve the problem quickly, the baby was going to get switched to formula.
4. My ability to make clear my limits with both the nurses and the lactation doctor (i.e. No tubes!… I need to leave the house! … If this takes more than 6 weeks, I’m done!… etc.)
5. Duncan’s more constant presence in the house – this is huge – his working from home has been a life saver. I have showered EVERY DAY.
6. My ability to endure fretting and to let Seamus calm himself down without jumping to see what’s the matter – on the other hand, I think Owen went straight from silence to screaming.
7. Wearing the baby. I have a sling that I bought with Owen, but he was so heavy and the weather was so hot that I hardly used it. I wear Seamus around a lot (though by no means all the time!!) and it’s great. But it also helps that he doesn’t scream when I put him down.
8. The Internet. Streaming video was in its infancy when Owen was in his, and I hadn’t heard of a podcast. Now there’s entertainment within easy reach all the time (do you think John Oliver knows that some of the people watching him on YouTube at 2am are mothers pumping milk for their underfed babies?). Also, I bought an ipad, which has to be a breastfeeding mother’s best friend. I can check facebook at 3am! Though it does disappoint me when I check again at 6 and nothing has changed. What have you people been doing for 3 hours?
9. The Internet. I am having my doubts again, but when I discovered Priscilla Dunstan’s baby language last week I was an instant convert. She argues that there are 5 “words” that babies make before they start to really cry (for hungry, tired, need to burp, lower bowel pain, and skin sensitivity – hot/cold/wet). I haven’t heard Seamus make the hunger or “skin sensitivity” sounds, but the other 3 are bang on, and it really helped me, when I was at my wits’ end, to know that his screaming had to do with a sore belly and not my bad parenting.
10. Last but not least: Owen. This (first) child of mine has been so helpful since the day Seamus was born. He goes and gets me my nursing pillow, he fetches me water, facecloths, burp cloths, diapers… He talks to me so I don’t get bored… Honestly, his presence has made having a baby so much better.
Anyway, this is what has gone well, so far. Maybe some other day I will write about all the minor horrors of double frenectomies and low weight gain babies, but for now, that’s over, so I am revelling in the good (by the way, that fretting baby fell asleep!)